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Morgan Skidders, ILC Graduate
It took Morgan Skidders eight years to finish high school. Not because she had learning difficulties. In fact, Morgan skipped a grade in elementary school because she was so bright. It took her eight years because Morgan had a childhood that no child should have to endure.
“When I was younger, I was a victim of sexual abuse,” said the 22-year-old. “This has and always will be a hard topic for me to discuss but I have come to realize that accepting it is a part of overcoming it. And discussing these sorts of things gives strength to others in similar situations; situations where strength is so unbelievably hard to find.”
Somehow Morgan did find strength. After living through foster care, a five-year sexual abuse court case and a toxic spousal relationship, Morgan achieved her goal and finally graduated from high school through TVO’s Independent Learning Centre (ILC).
Spurred on by a loving relationship and the birth of her son, Morgan is now fulfilling the potential she showed in her early school career.
“My son made it even harder to find time to do schoolwork but he also gave me the inspiration and motivation that I needed to finish. I want to set a good example for him,” she says.
Morgan’s achievement was recognized by the ILC when she was awarded the Robert Hogan Award. This award, named in honour of a former student, is presented to an ILC student to recognize their achievement in the face of significant adversity.
“It may have taken me much longer than it should have,” says Morgan. “But I’ve learned a lot in this time and am proud of myself for being where I am and finally finishing high school.”
Morgan is one of many success stories that the ILC has had the privilege to be a part of.
Stacey Netzel, ILC Graduate
Stacey became an OSSD graduate and college graduate thanks to the ILC courses.
It started during 2003/2004 school year when she dropped out of high school and pursued a full time position at a retail store where she worked at the time.
Everything was going as planned – or so she thought. Nearly a decade later, her fiancé got into a terrible car accident.
“WSIB required us to hire a home/personal support worker privately or have a friend or family member care for him,” Stacey said. By then, Stacey was no longer working in the same retail position. In fact, she wasn’t working at all. “I decided to be his full time care support worker. And this was when I realized where I wanted to be. Health care was, and still is my passion.”
Stacey found a local Community Learning Center where she wrote an equivalency test, administered by the ILC, and received all of her optional courses for Grade 12. From there, she took English, math and science courses to obtain her Grade 12 diploma. She finally graduated from high school in 2013 – a decade after dropping out – and attended post-secondary school to become a personal support worker. Now Stacey is working on upgrading her Grade 12 math, chemistry and biology to enrol in the Registered Practical Nursing program in the fall of 2017.
“My [now] husband’s accident was extremely unfortunate, but I didn’t let that bad situation dictate the rest of my life. I turned it into something positive. Now I have an education and a great career I have as a PSW in a local Long-term care facility. Thank you to the ILC courses and the options they have given me and so many other students out there!”
Maureen Asselin, Grade 6 Teacher and TeachOntario user, Oakville
When Maureen Asselin started teaching elementary school 10 years ago, students brought binders, textbooks and pencil cases to class. Today, they arrive with digital devices that are important tools to support learning.
“Students show up with phones, tablets, and laptops,” laughs the Grade 6 Oakville teacher who believes that digital supports are important to engage and develop global learners.
The students aren’t the only ones benefiting from the digital learning wave. Thousands of Ontario teachers have joined TVO’s TeachOntario, an online social learning network created “for Ontario teachers, by Ontario teachers”. TeachOntario’s Explore, Share, and Create sections encourage collaboration amongst educators.
“We share in TeachOntario so that we can inspire and be inspired by what other teachers are doing,” says Maureen, who is an active participant on the site.
Created in 2014 by TVO, in partnership with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, its’ Affiliates, the Ministry of Education, and an inspiring group of elementary and secondary educators, TeachOntario provides a platform for educators to support professional learning, foster teacher leadership, and share evidence-informed practices for the benefit of Ontario students.
Maureen is a member of a group of Grade 6 teachers that collaborate on math problem solving. Everything that Maureen and her colleagues have learned has been shared on TeachOntario. Now other educators across the province can benefit from, and add to, this learning.
Jonathan Rowe, kindergarten teacher and mPower user, Toronto
The way people in Ontario learn has changed drastically over the past few years. This is especially true for the province’s youngest learners.
“I chose mPower for my class because it’s made by TVO, an organization that everybody in Ontario trusts,” said Jonathan Rowe, a kindergarten teacher in Ontario. “I can honestly say that it’s changed the way my kids look at math and has changed the way I teach math.” mPower provides creative online games that teach fundamental K-6 math skills while enabling Ontario students to have fun and learn more about the world around them.
“When you’re looking at resources for the classroom, it’s just like choosing fruits and vegetables at dinner time. You want kids to have the best and things that will nourish them. And in this case it’s nourishing them intellectually and emotionally. Instead of ‘I can’t’, they feel like they can and they’re capable. Learning that math is everywhere and that you can take concepts from mPower and apply them to real world situations has been a pleasure. It’s great to have a resource like this in the classroom.”
Melissa Fiesser, Grade 2 teacher and mPower user, Oakville
The world is changing at a rapid pace. Digital technology is transforming the way students learn inside and outside of the classroom. TVO is playing an active role in ensuring that Ontario’s students are well-equipped to succeed at school and in life.
“I think my students see themselves as learners that need to be engaged and I think with 21st century skills, our students are demanding the technology,” said Melissa Fiesser, a Grade 2 teacher from Oakville. “They want to learn. My children are so excited when it’s time to play mPower. I don’t think they realize that they’re actually learning math when they play.” mPower is TVO’s series of creative online games that teach fundamental K-6 math skills while enabling Ontario students to have fun and learn more about the world around them.
“I’d describe mPower as a great opportunity for my students to practice their learning and to also establish new concepts in math in a safe environment. But what I’m finding is that mPower also supports our Grade 2 science program about animals and animal adaptations, as well as our world and global communities unit in social sciences. mPower allows students to move at their own pace. It lets them move ahead or go back to a level if they were having difficulty. The fact that it was developed for students by teachers in Ontario makes it a very valuable resource. We know that math is everywhere in our lives and mPower shows students that. It’s my new go-to resource in the classroom!”
Ray Klonsky and Marc Lamy, directors of the TVO-commissioned film, David and Me
It took first-time filmmakers Ray Klonsky and Marc Lamy eight years to make David & Me. The groundbreaking film took viewers through the complexities of the justice system as David McCallum spends nearly 30 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. David & Me is a stirring story of patience and perseverance in a seemingly hopeless situation.
“Documentaries tell real stories and give people windows into the world that make us, as a society, more compassionate and understanding of each other. That’s the real goal of documentaries; to empower filmmakers and subjects by educating, enlightening, and entertaining people while showing them new things,” said director Ray Klonsky.
The publicity that surrounded David & Me ultimately led to a review of David’s case, and his eventual exoneration. “Making your first film is the hardest thing to do,” Ray added. “We were lucky enough to have TVO commission this film. The wheels really started moving when TVO came on board.”
These stories are only possible because of you. Thank you for supporting TVO and the power of learning!